Pilgrims pray on Mount Arafat
‘Mesmerizing experience’ as Hajj reaches climax No COVID-19 cases, health minister says
Up to 60,000 Muslim pilgrims ascended Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia on Monday at the high point of this year’s Hajj.
At the Namira Mosque on the Arafat plain, pilgrims sat two meters apart on their prayer mats, some shedding tears and others raising both hands as they took part in noon prayers.
Karimullah Al-Sheikh, from India, said he was praying for his country, which has endured a surge in COVID-19 infections, to defeat the coronavirus and for everyone there to be vaccinated.
Hafiz Kadiku, a US expatriate in Saudi, said he had broader wishes: “There is so much racism ... I pray to Allah to make everyone love one another.”
Sheikh Bandar Baleelah, delivering the Arafat sermon, praised the efforts of Saudi authorities to ensure safety and prevent the pilgrimage from becoming a focus of the pandemic. The number of pilgrims is limited to 60,000, and Hajj is taking place under strict health precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
No cases of COVID-19 had been reported, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said. “There were some minor cases of tiredhill
ness due to the physical exertion, but the pilgrims … left hospital shortly after they received the necessary treatment,” he said.
After noon prayers, pilgrims carrying water bottles and umbrellas made their way up the 70-meter for hours of prayers and Qur’an readings.
They observed social distancing and wore face masks on Mount Arafat, the hill where Allah tested Ibrahim’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son, Ismail, and where the Prophet Muhammad gave his last sermon.
Among the pilgrims was Misha Salim, a Pakistani expatriate in Jeddah and a mother of three children. She was accompanied by her husband Nayab Gohar, a businessman. “Since this is my first experience at Hajj and being one of 60,000 select pilgrims, the feeling is incredible and unbelievable,” she told Arab News. “The whole journey is phenomenal and mesmerizing.”
After sunset on Monday, the pilgrims moved to the rocky plains of Muzdalifah, to prepare for the final stages of this year’s pilgrimage. They will collect pebbles for the “stoning of the devil” ritual at Jamarat in Mina, marking the first day of the Eid Al-Adha festival.